Or how when he went to Jamaica and introduced himself with a “Wha gwaan.”

Or here, when he takes to the dance floor in Kenya to the sounds of Swahili music.

These nuances are not missed beyond the US. They show an American leader genuinely interested in being a partner with the rest of the world and connecting with their way of life.

So when Africans see Obama, for example, make a case for gay rights under the law while not being self-righteous about it, the respect he shows is appreciated—even if some strenuously disagree with him.

People who argue that Obama has been a disappointment to Africa view the situation from a very different perspective. Politico suggested that Obama’s decision not to direct vast sums of direct aid to Africa are proof of his failure: “Africa’s a continent where politics is all about patronage, and a president of the United States with Kenyan roots seemed to many Africans like the ultimate political patron.”

Well, not really mate. The Obama years have coincided with the extraordinary shift in Africa’s thinking about the present and the achievable future. Africans, like no other time before us, have come to believe in our ability to shape our future without the patronage of others.

This is something that Obama understands. And Africans love the fact that he gets it: What we want is not a patron, but a true partner.

📬 Sign up for the Daily Brief

Our free, fast, and fun briefing on the global economy, delivered every weekday morning.